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OUR BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE: Rhapsody in blue, not red

Published on Monday, 26 July 2010 00:00
Star-forming region around the star R Coronae Australis. (ESO)


This spectacular star-forming region lies relatively close-by, around the star R Coronae Australis, about 420 light-years away. The image is about as wide as the full Moon, and spans 4 light-years. The star itself lies in a blue-coloured reflection nebula within a huge dust cloud; the blue colour arises from starlight reflected off dust particles. Dark regions appear where the dust is thickest. Unlike many star-forming regions, this has no red glow, because the young stars in the R Coronae Australis complex are similar in mass to the Sun and do not emit enough ultraviolet light to ionize much of the surrounding hydrogen. This image is a composite of 12 separate images using red, green and blue filters, taken with the Wide Field Imager at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

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